Review of Satoshi Kon: the illusionist

by dm00

Book cover

I just finished Andrew Osmond’s Satoshi Kon: the illusionist. I recommend it for any Kon fan — it’s full of tidbits gleaned from Kon interviews (including an email interview done by Osmond), and discusses Kon’s works, Kon’s life, and Kon’s attitudes toward his own works. Osmond is a fan — he is a prominent poster on the Nausicaa-net mailing list back in the day — and he knows how to appreciate Kon’s works. Reading the book is like spending an afternoon with an articulate, film-literate friend talking about Kon’s films, with nary a whiff of cineaste pretentiousness.

The book has a chapter on Kon’s early life growing up in Hokkaido, and the way he more-or-less stumbled into working on anime; his early anime work (e.g., his collaborations with Katsuhiron Otomo on manga and anime (Kon worked on Roujin Z, and directed the memorable “Magnetic Rose” segment of Memories). Following that introduction, there come individual chapters on each of Kon’s films: Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika plus a chapter on Paranoia Agent.

Each film- (or TV series-)centric chapter begins with a history of the work: its origins, how Kon came to create it, involvement with collaborators; this is followed by a synopsis of the film; then an analysis discussing how the film fits into the body of Kon’s work, how the film was received. Chapter side-bars give detailed descriptions of critical scenes (Osmond’s transcriptions from the film, these are not drawn from the scripts), a list of points of interest (production notes, linkages to other works, scenes and dialogue to make special note of).

The book is profusely illustrated with varying-quality screen-shots and high-quality reproductions of promotional material. One thing I wish was included: missing from the book are pages illustrating Kon’s detailed storyboards.

Reading the book is a pleasant way to spend the afternoon reflecting on Kon’s body of work. Osmond calls out details you may have missed, and articulates impressions you may only be vaguely aware of. I found the discussion of Paranoia Agent particularly helpful.

3 Responses to “Review of <i>Satoshi Kon: the illusionist</i>”


  1. 1 TheBigN June 4, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    This is something that’s very interesting to me, as I like Kon’s works and based on some interviews I’ve seen and quotes I read of the man, I very much like his perspective on things and how he goes about creating his works, as well as himself as a person. I was planning on reading the book earlier, but this is making me want to got it more.


  1. 1 Monthly Briefs — Summer 2010 #1 Trackback on August 1, 2010 at 5:11 am
  2. 2 I don’t think there needs to be yet another link to this, but… « Drastic My Anime Blog Trackback on August 26, 2010 at 9:57 pm

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